As babies, our bodies are merely vessels. We’re barely aware of ourselves, let alone the specifics of our bodies. As we grow, though, we start to develop a sense of self. We learn the names of our body parts and absorb our culture's messages about our bodies. How we view ourselves becomes more and more complex the older we get, which is why it's beneficial to look back at how we used to view our bodies. So I had several moms ask their 3-year-olds what they think of their bodies, and the answers ran the gamut of entertaining and enlightening.
I asked my own toddler what he thought of his body, first. My 3-and-a-half year-old didn’t exactly understand what it was I was asking, though. He would repeat the same thing over and over again: “Over here!” while pointing at a random part of his body. So I'm going to go ahead and assume his "thoughts" concerning his body are something along the lines of, "My body is right here. Duh."
At this point in my son's life and in my parenting, I merely try to encourage a more body positive attitude. Explaining how our bodies are important and special, how they take care of us and how we need to take care of them. Some of the moms I chatted with told me their little ones wound up having an even longer conversation about their bodies, which is great. If anything, this is a reminder for all us mothers to have conversations early and often about our children's bodies. At worst, you’ll get a few laughs.
"It's my body. This one body. For playing toys."
Gioia's Mom: I had to prompt her a little (because she didn't quite get the initial question) by asking what she liked. I asked if she liked her smile and she beamed and said, "Uh-huh!" Then I asked what else and she said, "My tummy!"
"My body is big!"
Allison's Mom: Allison just kept saying, "I don't know." Then she said, “My feets need to get bigger so I can jump higher!”
“My body eats and poops!”
"I can't think!" (
Ronin's Mom: Then he threw himself on the floor.
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